Nothing compares to the grief that comes after you finish a TV show. If you’ve followed it all the way since the beginning, you’re saying goodbye to characters you may have spent the last 6+ years of your life falling in love with. The hours you’ve spent getting to know this wonderful world filled with interesting and dynamic characters has left you with a hole in your heart that you can’t possibly fill with something as inane as nature or human connection.
If you’re finishing a show that you’ve only just recently discovered and binged, it’s like meeting your soulmate only to find out he’s dying of terminal cancer. Or, it’s the same feeling you get when you make a new best friend in school who decides to up and move halfway across the world just because her family is moving and she doesn’t think moving in with you is a very good option. Suffice it to say, it sucks.
It’s a hidden kind of grief that you can’t exactly share with your family and friends. Sure, everyone sympathizes with you when a loved one dies. But when you’re grieving the loss of a television show, it’s pretty safe to say that no one really cares. You can cry all you want, but you better keep it to yourself if you don’t want to meet with some pretty heavy eye-rolling.
For me, the sense of loss is like a weight in the air. It makes me feel like I’m walking through some kind of absurdist dream. Everything slows down, and the thoughts and cares I had before seem immaterial now. What do deadlines matter when I’ll never again get to explore the fantastical world of The Magicians? What’s the point of getting in my workout for the day when Lost ended 10 years ago? How can I care about anything you have to say when all I can think about is why Hannibal didn’t get picked up for a fourth season by NBC?
I wish I knew the perfect way to move on. You can always watch the show again, I know, but it never feels the same. It’s tainted with this painful sense of longing, like going through old photos of you and your ex. Sure, you had some wonderful memories together, but that time is done now. Like all grief, the only thing that can lessen it is time.
I do know that I never start another show right away that I know I’ll really enjoy. My experience of something new will only be clouded by my grief at the loss of the old. The only way I can truly reset and learn to love again is by watching something I know will be mediocre. It acts like a palate cleanser, a rebound relationship with something that captures my interest but deep down I know I’ll never truly become emotionally invested in (like Scandal, or Homecoming season 2).
I also find it comforting to start an older show that’s already come and gone. There’s a certain nostalgic feel to it, like going to visit grandpa and listening to his stories about when milk was cheaper and nobody had any rights. My latest rebound is Fringe, JJ Abrams’ follow up to Lost that aired for 5 seasons from 2008 to 2013. It’s just the right mixture of quality television and outdated hairstyles that makes me feel like maybe it’s safe to open my heart again. Already I can feel myself getting drawn into this next show. Maybe I’ll start an Instagram account posting Fringe memes that will go viral and cause the show to experience an unexpected resurgence. Anything is possible in the world of television.